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Former Deputy Sentenced to Life in Prison for  1981 Murder of Lieutenant

April 28, 2016 - 3:12 PM

Deputy Lt. Ray "Joe" Clark

MARIETTA— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Washington County Sheriff Larry R. Mincks Sr. announced today that the former deputy convicted of the 1981 slaying of Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Ray "Joe" Clark has been sentenced to life in prison. 

Mitchell Ruble, 65, who was found guilty of aggravated murder after a jury trial last month, was sentenced by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Randall Burnworth this morning.  

In addition to the life sentence on the aggravated murder charge, Judge Burnworth also sentenced Ruble to a concurrent sentence of 11 months in prison for a charge of unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance.  Ruble pleaded guilty to the weapons charge today.  The charge was part of a separate case relating to Ruble's illegal possession of a modified AR-15 fully automatic rifle. The weapon was found by law enforcement when they served a search warrant in connection with the murder investigation. 

The case is believed to be one of the oldest cold cases involving the murder of a law enforcement officer that has ever been successfully prosecuted. 

"Many people, including the defendant himself, likely thought that this case would never be solved, but today, there is justice," said Attorney General DeWine.  "Cold cases can be very difficult to solve, but as this case shows, it's not impossible when you have law enforcement and prosecutors who refuse to give up and are committed to finding the truth." 

"I am very thankful for the hard work of investigators in my office and for the valuable assistance from Attorney General DeWine to hold this killer accountable," said Sheriff Mincks. "The Attorney General's special prosecutors and BCI agents did a fantastic job, and thanks to this teamwork, Lt. Clark's family and colleagues here in Washington County can finally feel some closure."

Lt. Clark, pictured, was shot to death at his Marietta home on Dodd's Run Road on Feb. 7, 1981. Investigators determined that Ruble waited outside Lt. Clark’s home and shot him with a shotgun through the kitchen window. 

Ruble had worked as a deputy with the Washington County Sheriff's Office until December 1979, when Lt. Clark terminated his employment due to the use of excessive force while on duty.

Special prosecutors with Attorney General DeWine's Special Prosecutions Section prosecuted the case. The Washington County Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit and Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the case, which was part of Attorney General DeWine's Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative.

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